Andrew – My Coaching Story
I have been coaching athletics and football for around 15 years now. Starting as a parent volunteer I am now a UKA qualified event group jumps coach (a qualification aimed at coaching the 14-19 year old group in particular). I have a daughter with a learning disability and have also coached athletes with learning disabilities for 10 years.
How I got into coaching athletes with CP
I have coached Ellie Simpson (a Cerebral Palsy Sport Young Sporting Ambassador) for 4 years now and the Sheffield Racerunning team for almost 2 years.
As part of my coaching progression with UK Athletics I took an online module in wheelchair racing. Within 2 days I had a request from UKA to support an athlete with CP. Ellie turned up and asked what I knew about club throwing! We had a go at wheelchair racing but Ellie quickly decided that wasn’t going to be her thing, there are still marks on the walls of the stadium that prove that was probably a wise decision. I could tell she was determined to find her niche so we stuck with club throwing and general conditioning for a while.
I have done the specific wheelchair module and a number of UKA Disability Inclusion Training courses and recently attended a racerunning coaching conference in Edinburgh. I have a strong background in coaching athletes in fundamental movement skills which form the core of everything I coach.
My proudest moment
Really difficult to be honest. I have some fantastic memories from athletics. Every PB gives me a lift but sometimes even improving a movement drill in training can be just as fulfilling, but if I’m really honest my 3 children have had varying degrees of success which have given me great pleasure to see them so happy. Coaching is so enjoyable and gives me so many uplifting moments, to see any athlete with challenges overcome those challenges whether its lack of confidence to physical disability is not measurable. There can’t be much more rewarding than putting a smile on the face of somebody who has had to overcome significant hurdles to achieve anything.
Advise to those who want to get into disability coaching
Do it, you cannot over estimate the pleasure it will give you.
Go down to your local club, attend a taster session or a competition once you see the pleasure that any athlete gets from the sport consider how much time you can give. Go back again, approach a coach at the end of the session (that’s when we are most vulnerable) and offer your services, you will be supported throughout your journey whatever your choices and level of commitment, you will enjoy opportunities to be creative.
My advice to families or those with CP who want to try sport
Trying to avoid clichés but I’m pretty sure there is something there for everyone. I understand the challenges families face everyday but the benefits of sport in terms of building self esteem, improving health in so many ways and building social networks definitely make it worth that extra effort. Make sure it is something that the person enjoys, in my view enjoyment is certainly enhanced through a sense of progress so pick the sport carefully.
As always try to get support from appropriate medical professionals and give Racerunning a try.